Whilst Australia prides itself on being a multicultural society and being accepting of the values of all cultures, the Courts have recognised that some practices may not always be in the best interests of children.
In a decision in late 2010, the Family Court of Australia restrained a 14 year old girl from leaving Australia, thus saving her from an arranged marriage to a 17 year old man she had never met. The Department of Human Services was alerted to the problem when the girl stopped attending school. After interviewing her, the Department was of the view that the girl did not appear to understand the consequences of marriage.
The Court accepted that it would be contrary to the girl’s welfare to permit her to be taken overseas for the purpose of the marriage. The Judge was of the view that a 14 year old girl would not have the understanding of the significance of marriage, which would be attributable to an adult. Given that the marriage could not be celebrated in Australia was another reason for the Judge’s decision.
The girl’s name was ordered to be placed on the Australian Federal Police Watch List and her passport was surrendered.
This decision demonstrates the Court’s views on both marriage and children. Firstly, the Court highlighted the significant nature of marriage and that it should not be entered lightly. Marriage is an institution, whereby both parties should enter it freely and with the proper understanding of all that marriage entails.
Secondly, the Court demonstrated that the best interests and welfare of children is the primary consideration in any proceedings in Australia, regardless of whether that conflicts with any cultural upbringing.
If you have any questions regarding any aspect of Family Law, at Everingham Solomons we have the experience and expertise to assist you because Helping You is Our Business.
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